“Jasmine Revolution”
Symbol of peace: Flowers placed on the barrel of a tank
in very much calmer protests than in recent days in Tunisia

'The Protester' - Time Person of the Year 2011

'The Protester' - Time Person of the Year 2011
Mannoubia Bouazizi, the mother of Tunisian street vendor Mohammed Bouazizi. "Mohammed suffered a lot. He worked hard. but when he set fire to himself, it wasn’t about his scales being confiscated. It was about his dignity." (Peter Hapak for TIME)

How eyepatches became a symbol of Egypt's revolution - Graffiti depicting a high ranking army officer with an eye patch Photograph: Nasser Nasser/ASSOCIATED PRESS

2 - EGYPT Democratic Change / Freedom of Speech (In Transition)


''17 February Revolution"

3 - LIBYA Democratic Change / Freedom of Speech (In Transition)

5 - SYRIA Democratic Change / Freedom of Speech (In Transition)

"25 January Youth Revolution"
Muslim and Christian shoulder-to-shoulder in Tahrir Square
"A Summary" – Apr 2, 2011 (Kryon channelled by Lee Carroll) (Subjects: Religion, Shift of Human Consciousness, 2012, Intelligent/Benevolent Design, EU, South America, 5 Currencies, Water Cycle (Heat up, Mini Ice Ace, Oceans, Fish, Earthquakes ..), Middle East, Internet, Israel, Dictators, Palestine, US, Japan (Quake/Tsunami Disasters , People, Society ...), Nuclear Power Revealed, Hydro Power, Geothermal Power, Moon, Financial Institutes (Recession, Realign integrity values ..) , China, North Korea, Global Unity,..... etc.) -
(Subjects: Egypt Uprising, Iran/Persia Uprising, Peace in Middle East without Israel actively involved, Muhammad, "Conceptual" Youth Revolution, "Conceptual" (without a manager hierarchy) managed Businesses, Internet, Social Media, News Media, Google, Bankers, Global Unity,..... etc.)
"The End of History" – Nov 20, 2010 (Kryon channelled by Lee Carroll)
(Subjects:Abraham, Isaac, Ishmael, Muhammad, Jesus, God, Jews, Arabs, EU, US, Israel, Iran, Russia, Africa, South America, Global Unity,..... etc.) (Text version)

"If an Arab and a Jew can look at one another and see the Akashic lineage and see the one family, there is hope. If they can see that their differences no longer require that they kill one another, then there is a beginning of a change in history. And that's what is happening now. All of humanity, no matter what the spiritual belief, has been guilty of falling into the historic trap of separating instead of unifying. Now it's starting to change. There's a shift happening."


“ … Here is another one. A change in what Human nature will allow for government. "Careful, Kryon, don't talk about politics. You'll get in trouble." I won't get in trouble. I'm going to tell you to watch for leadership that cares about you. "You mean politics is going to change?" It already has. It's beginning. Watch for it. You're going to see a total phase-out of old energy dictatorships eventually. The potential is that you're going to see that before 2013.

They're going to fall over, you know, because the energy of the population will not sustain an old energy leader ..."



Heads of governments during the opening session of the African Union summit
on January 30, 2014 at the AU headquarters in Addis Ababa (AFP, Samuel Gebru)

Nelson Mandela

Nelson Mandela
Few words can describe Nelson Mandela, so we let him speak for himself. Happy birthday, Madiba.
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Thursday, October 30, 2014

Burkina Faso army dissolves government

The chief of Burkina Faso's army has dissolved the government and said that a transitional government will be formed. The announcement came shortly after the president reportedly declared a state of emergency.

Deutsche Welle, 30 Oct 2014


Burkina Faso's government was forced to resign on Thursday following increasingly violent protests against the country's president.

Several hours after opposition lawmakers and high-level military officials met, Burkina Faso army chief, General Honore Traore, told reporters in the capital that the government had been dissolved.

"A transitional body will be put in place in consultation with all parties," Traore said.

The temporary governing body would hold power "no more than 12 months," he added.

A curfew was also put into place for 7:00 p.m. to 6:00 p.m. local time.

Protests escalate

Mass protests broke out in the capital city Ouagadougou earlier this week over a planned amendment to the constitution which would extend President Blaise Compaore's 27-year grip on power.

On Thursday, the demonstrations escalated, with thousands pouring onto the capital city's streets and a group of protesters storming the parliament building. There, they set fire to the main chamber.

Burkina Faso's public broadcasters also came under attack when groups of demonstrators forced their way into the buildings. State television and radio subsequently ceased broadcast operations during the day.

Other cities across the country reported blazes being set to properties belonging to politicians of the ruling political party Congress for Democracy and Progress (CDP), including in the second-largest city Bobo-Dioulasso and in the central city of Koudougou.
At least one person was killed in the violence, according to security forces.

State of emergency report

Shortly before General Traore's announcement, President Compaore reportedly declared a state of emergency.

An announcer from local radio station Radio Omega FM had read the statement from the office of the presidency, which also purported that the leader would seek talks with opposition leaders.

The long-time leader's whereabouts remain unknown.

The explosive protests have raised concern in the international community, with the EU, the US and the UN calling for all sides to refrain from violence and seek a peaceful, political solution.

On Thursday, UN Secretary General Ban Ki-moon dispatched special envoy Mohamed Ibn Chambas to the region to help restore calm.

President Compaore seized power in 1987, and his bid to keep his position has angered much of the public, including many young people, in a country where 60 percent of the population is under 25.

kms/sb (AP, AFP, Reuters, dpa)

Burkina Faso President Compaore resigns

Related Article:


Wednesday, October 29, 2014

Zambia's 'King Cobra' dies; white vice president takes charge

Yahoo – AFP, Obert Simwanza, 29 Oct 2014

Michael Sata (2nd left) is welcomed by the Speaker of the National Assembly
 Dr Patrick Matibini (right) before officially opening the Zambian Parliament on
September 19, 2014 in Lusaka (Photo: Stringer/AFP)

Zambian Vice President Guy Scott Wednesday became Africa's first white leader in more than two decades after being named interim president following the death of Michael Sata in London.

The 77-year-old Sata, nicknamed "King Cobra" for his sharp rhetoric, died Tuesday while undergoing treatment for an unspecified illness in London's King Edward VII hospital.

Officials had long denied Sata was sick, even prosecuting journalists who questioned his long "working vacations" to Israel and elsewhere.

Zambian Vice President Guy Scott waves
upon his arrival at the White House for a
group dinner during the US Africa Leaders
Summit, August 5, 2014 (Photo: Brendan
Smialovski/AFP)
Some Zambians responded to the news by asking why he died in an upscale foreign hospital and expressed anger over government secrecy, including claims he was going to London for a check-up.

"They were cheating," said Mundia Akapelwa, a young mother visiting Lusaka's Soweto market.

"They knew well that he was going to seek medical attention. You can hide sickness but you can't hide death. Now the whole world knows that the man has died in hospital."

In the hours following Sata's demise it was unclear who would lead the country, or his Patriotic Front party, which has been accused of creeping authoritarianism.

Sata had named Defence Minister Edgar Lungu as acting president before he left for Britain, despite doubts about the constitutionality of that move.

But it later emerged that Sata's deputy Scott, 70, will take the reins until elections are held within 90 days.

Scott -- whose parents came from Scotland -- becomes the first white president of an African nation since FW de Klerk ruled apartheid South Africa more than 20 years ago until 1994.

But he is not eligible to stand in upcoming elections, thanks to a constitutional rule barring presidential candidates whose parents were born outside Zambia, a former British colony.

In an address to the nation Scott vowed to uphold the constitution and announced a period of mourning.

"We will miss our beloved president and comrade," he said.

Station cleaner to president

Chinese Vice-President Li Yuanchao (left)
 gives a present to Michael Sata in
 Lusaka on June 19, 2014 during a
state visit to Zambia
Sata was elected in 2011 to preside over his landlocked, southern African nation of 15 million people.

It was a triumphant post for a man who rose from sweeping London railway stations, through to being a policeman and trade unionist.

Once in power, though, he proved to be an authoritarian populist who inveighed against political foes, the media and sometimes even allies, earning him his snakey sobriquet.

His admirers saw him more as a no-nonsense man of action.

Sata had not been seen in public since returning from the UN General Assembly last month, where he failed to make a scheduled speech.

Even before Sata's death, analysts had said a power struggle for Zambia's top job was already well under way within the Patriotic Front.

They now face a divisive primary battle, before a possible general election challenge from former president Rupiah Banda, who is facing graft charges, has hinted at a possible return to active politics.

"I am legally eligible to stand," he told AFP early this month, citing calls from his supporters to return to the political fray.

Tributes to Sata

British Foreign Secretary Philip Hammond said Sata "played a commanding role in the public life of his country over three decades."

African leaders also paid rich tributes.

Kenya's President Uhuru Kenyatta hailed him as an "outstanding son of Africa".

"He was gifted with unique, admirable abilities and strong values," Kenyatta said in a statement.

While paying tribute, the United States welcomed the appointment of Scott as the interim president, calling for a peaceful political transition.

"We anticipate a peaceful and constitutional transition," said State Department spokeswoman Jen Psaki.

Zambia's President Michael Sata (L) reviews
 a guard of honour outside the National
Assembly building on September 19,
2014 in Lusaka
In London, the British flag over the parliament building was lowered to half-mast, a convention to mark the death of a Commonwealth leader.

Commonwealth Secretary General Kamalesh Sharma said he was struck by Sata's commitment to improving the lives of his countrymen.

South Africa's ruling ANC party said: "Zambia has lost not only a president who prioritised the poor, but also led the Zambian government at a time when the continent is working to reclaim its place in the global governance and economy."

Sata rode to power on the back of resentment against the Chinese resource firms that dot Zambia, describing them as "infesters".

His government had recently cracked down on political opponents and critical journalists who reported on his long-suspected illness and frequent "working trips" abroad, apparently for medical treatment.

Sunday, October 26, 2014

Botswana president re-elected despite strong opposition challenge

Yahoo – AFP, Sibongile Khumalo, 26 oct 2014

Activists for the ruling Botswana Democratic Party (BDP) distribute posters with
 the picture of incumbent President Ian Khama, at a pre-election rally in Gaborone,
on October 22, 2014 (AFP Photo/Marco Longari)

Gaborone (Botswana) (AFP) - Botswana President Ian Khama saw off the biggest challenge posed by the opposition since independence, winning a second term in power on Sunday as his ruling party secured a majority at the polls.

Khama "has been re-elected as the President of the Republic" said High Court Chief Justice Maruping Dibotelo, after his party the Botswana Democratic Party (BDP) garnered at least 34 of the 57 parliamentary seats.

With tallying still ongoing for seven seats, it is unclear if the ruling party will match its previous election result of 41 seats.

Phenyo Butale, opposition Umbrella for
 Democratic Change (UDC) candidate for the
 Gaborone Central constituency, celebrates
 with supporters in Gaborone on October 25, 
2014 after the coalition did well in the
general election (AFP Photo/Monirul 
Bhuiyan)
An opposition coalition called the Umbrella for Democratic Change (UDC) has meanwhile won 14 seats, while another opposition group, Botswana Congress Party, has secured two.

Khama, 61, who is the son of the country's first president, Seretse Khama, will be inaugurated on Monday.

Friday's general elections had been billed as the most challenging for the ruling party, which has governed the diamond-rich, sparsely populated country bordering South Africa since it gained independence from Britain in 1966.

Opposition parties had in particular made inroads in urban areas, following the formation in 2010 of a breakaway party, the Botswana Movement for Democracy (BMD).

The BMD is now part of the UDC coalition, led by Duma Boko, which has won seats in districts which were once strongholds of the ruling party, including in capital Gaborone.

"The UDC did well for a new party, but naturally we were hoping for more votes to topple the BDP. It was never to be," said Seakamela Motsoaledi, a UDC party representative.

Falling diamond revenues

Although seen as one of Africa's success stories, Botswana has recorded rising unemployment since 2009 as the global economic crisis sent diamond prices falling.

The dropping diamond revenues had in turn forced Khama's government to halt planned investments in recent years.

During the election campaign, Khama admitted the failure of his government to stop unemployment rates from rising.

Among key challenges that he faces is the task of diversifying the country's economy.

Polling officers count ballots at a counting centre in Gaborone on October 24,
2014 (AFP Photo/Marco Longari)

International observers were satisfied that the polls had been free, although questions were raised over election funding and the poor representation of female candidates in the party lists.

Regional blocs, the Southern African Development Community (SADC) and the African Union, said the eleciton had been "credible and reflecting the will of the people."

"Botswana remains unique in Africa in that it has enjoyed 48 years of sustained and uninterrupted democracy," said the SADC mission.

However, the mission noted the inadequate voter education ahead of the polls, due to a lack of funding.

The SADC also urged the authorities to encourage the participation of women in a vote dominated by male candidates.

The AU called on Botswana to provide public funding of political parties to "ensure fairness during the electoral process and improve fairness."

"We are aware that not many countries in Africa can afford to provide funding for political parties, but this is part of the AU statutes," said Joyce Banda, the AU head of observer mission and former president of Malawi.

Tunisians vote to establish first democratically elected government

The birthplace of the "Arab Spring" is voting to choose its first parliament. The exercise is being seen as Tunisia's first major step towards democracy following the revolution in 2011.

Deutsche Welle, 26 Oct 2014


More than five million Tunisians were expected to choose their representatives in 12,000 polling stations across the country, where voting began at 7:00 a.m. (6:00 a.m. GMT) and was scheduled to last until 6 p.m. local time. Results are expected shortly after.

Security was tightened and more than 70,000 troops were stationed across the country for fear of Islamist attacks. The next round of elections for the president will take place on November 23.

Citizens will select 217 leaders from 13,000 candidates representing more than 90 political parties for the country's legislature.

Favourites for this year's elections include the Islamist movement Ennahda (renaissance), which was revived after democratic reforms in 2011. Ennahda had been banned by the former President Zine El Abidine Ben Ali's government.

Ennahda became a major political force and soon after won the country's first free election to a constitutional council in 2011. However, major rifts were revealed between the Islamist party and other secular groups like the Nidaa Tounes.

Tunisia's transition into democracy

Tunisia finally got a new constitution in 2014 and a government of independents under Mehdi Jomaa was formed to steer the country into democratic parliamentary elections for the first time after the 2011 revolution.

At the time, deadly protests rocked the country after citizens became increasingly frustrated with rising unemployment and high prices. Nearly 300 people were killed in the violence, which ultimately led to the ouster of President Zine El Abidine Ben Ali, who seized power in a bloodless coup in 1987.

Despite recent attacks by extremists, labor unrest and high inflation, Tunisia's democratic reforms have been on track, unlike its other neighbors who experienced violent protests against the government. The parliamentary elections and the polls in November are intended to complete the democratization of Tunisia, which is often referred to as the birthplace of the "Arab Spring."

mg/slk (AFP, dpa, AP, Reuters)
Related Article:


Thursday, October 23, 2014

South Sudan women suggest sex strike to end war

Yahoo – AFP, 23 Oct 2014

Almost two million have fled the fighting between South Sudanese troops,
mutinous soldiers and tribal militia forces (AFP Photo/Ivan Lieman)

Juba (AFP) - A group of South Sudanese women peace activists has suggested that men in the civil war-torn country be denied sex until they stop fighting.

The suggestion emerged after around 90 women, including several members of South Sudan's parliament, met in the capital Juba this week to come up with ideas on how to "to advance the cause of peace, healing and reconciliation".

A key suggestion was to "mobilise all women in South Sudan to deny their husbands conjugal rights until they ensure that peace returns," organisers said in a statement Thursday.

Other proposals included finding ways to meet the wives of President Salva Kiir and his arch-rival, rebel chief Riek Machar, to "ask them to join the search for peace and reconciliation by impressing upon their husbands to stop the war".

Thousands of people have been killed and almost two million have fled the fighting between government troops, mutinous soldiers and tribal militia forces.

Civilians have been massacred, patients murdered in hospitals and people killed while sheltering in churches.

Almost 100,000 people are sheltering in squalid UN peacekeeping bases fearing they will be killed if they leave.

Tobias Atari Okori, from the government-backed South Sudan Peace and Reconciliation Commission, acknowledged that the idea highlighted that people were desperate for the war to end.

"People are experiencing great suffering, and it is the women, children and the aged who are suffering the worst," he told AFP.

The UN special envoy on sexual violence Zainab Bangura said this month the levels of rape are the worst she had ever seen.

Political and military leaders have repeatedly broken promises made under intense international pressure, including during visits to South Sudan by UN chief Ban Ki-moon and US Secretary of State John Kerry.

Earlier this month, a group of 19 major aid agencies warned that while massive food drops had helped avert famine for now, the threat remained and would continue to worsen the longer the war continues.

Tuesday, October 21, 2014

Spain nurse definitively cured of Ebola: doctors

Yahoo – AFP, Daniel Silva, 21 Oct 2014

A protester holds her nurse identification card during a demonstration in support of
 Spanish nurse Teresa Romero infected with the deadly Ebola virus in Madrid on
October 11, 2014 (AFP Photo/Curto De La Torre)

Madrid (AFP) - A Spanish nurse who was the first person to catch Ebola outside Africa has been cured of the deadly virus, doctors confirmed Tuesday, easing fears of it spreading in Europe.

Doctors at the Carlos III hospital in Madrid said definitive test results showed Teresa Romero, 44, was free of the virus, which has killed more than 4,500 people in west Africa.

"The criteria set by the World Health Organization for curing the Ebola virus have been fulfilled," Doctor Jose Ramon Arribas, head of the hospital's infectious diseases unit, told a news conference.

The news was met with relief after two tense weeks that generated public sympathy for Romero -- along with questions about safety procedures and spending cuts in Spain's health sector.

"We have had a hard, worrying time since this started, but now little by little we can see light at the end of the tunnel. These test results are a cause for happiness," said Marta Arsuaga, one of the doctors treating Romero.

"We have to wait for her to get back to the state of health she had before. Then we will really be happy and ready to celebrate."

Officials earlier said Romero had received blood serum from a patient who had survived the disease. Doctors would not give any further details of other treatments she may have received.

There is no vaccine nor any widely available cure for Ebola but a number of experimental treatments have been fast-tracked for development.

Health safety 'failings'

Romero was one of the nursing staff at the Carlos III hospital who treated two elderly Spanish missionaries who caught the disease in Africa and died in Madrid in August and September.

Her husband Javier Limon and 14 other people who had contact with the nurse before she was diagnosed are under observation at the hospital but none has yet shown symptoms.

Arribas said a specialist laboratory confirmed that a fourth and final round of tests had shown Romero to be clear of the virus, though she might take "a few days" to completely get over the symptoms.

Arribas said that according to WHO guidelines, officials will have to wait until 42 days after the curing of the last infected patient to declare the country free of Ebola.

The haemorrhagic fever is passed by contact with the bodily fluids of those infected. It begins with fever and can lead to diarrhoea, vomiting, internal bleeding and organ failure.

The WHO in its latest toll said 4,555 people had died from Ebola out of a total of 9,216 cases registered in seven countries as of October 14.

The spread of the disease outside hard-hit African countries such as Liberia and Sierra Leone has put governments around the world on alert.

The United States has introduced health checks at airports for travellers from the region. Two nurses fell ill in Texas after caring for a Liberian man who died from the disease, but no more cases have been detected there for six days.

Shortly after Romero was hospitalised, officials outraged health care staff by hinting that the patient herself was to blame for getting infected.

Spain's General Nursing Council released a report alleging what its chairman Maximo Gonzalez described as "substantial failings" in health safety procedures.

He told a news conference that hospital staff treating Ebola patients were given ill-fitting protective gloves and permeable overalls and were not properly trained in how to put them on and take them off.

Related Articles:

Monday, October 20, 2014

Nigeria declared Ebola-free in 'spectacular success'

Yahoo – AFP, Ola Awoniyi with Bryan Mcmanus in Luxembourg

A teacher demonstrates washing procedures to pupils prevent the spread of the
Ebola virus at a school in Lagos on October 8, 2014 (AFP Photo/Pius Utomi Ekpei)

Abuja (AFP) - Nigeria was declared Ebola-free on Monday in a "spectacular success" in the battle to contain the spread of a virus which is devastating Guinea, Sierra Leone and Liberia where more than 4,500 people have died.

The World Health Organization said Nigeria -- Africa's most populous country where eight deaths had sparked fears of a rapid spread through its teeming cities -- had shown the world "that Ebola can be contained".

Another west African nation, Senegal, was declared free of the virus on Friday.

Liberian health workers at the NGO
Medecins Sans Frontieres (Doctors
Without Borders) Ebola treatment centre
in Monrovia on October 18, 2014 (AFP
Photo/Zoom Dosso)
European Union foreign ministers meeting in Luxembourg said the bloc must step up efforts to contain Ebola and prevent it becoming a global threat.

Amid concerns that the global response has been too slow, the 28 EU nations agreed to do more to get foreign medical staff onto the Ebola frontline.

They also agreed to appoint an Ebola coordinator.

"The person will be named in the coming days," French Foreign Minister Laurent Fabius told reporters.

In the United States, the absence of any new cases in the last five days prompted cautious optimism from health authorities that the virus has been contained there after a flawed initial response.

In another encouraging piece of news, test results showed a Spanish nurse who was the first person to contract the virus outside Africa appears to now be clear of the disease after treatment.

But while the rest of the world appeared to be winning the fight to keep Ebola at bay, the three west African countries which account for the vast majority of the 4,500 deaths -- Liberia, Sierra Leone and Guinea -- were counting a rising human and economic cost.

Liberian President Ellen Johnson Sirleaf warned Sunday that a generation of Africans was at risk of "being lost to economic catastrophe" because of the crisis.

The "time for talking or theorising is over," she said in an open letter published by the BBC.

"This fight requires a commitment from every nation that has the capacity to help -- whether that is with emergency funds, medical supplies or clinical expertise."

EU calls for more funds

The WHO declared Nigeria free of Ebola after 42 days elapsed without any new cases among its 170 million citizens.

"The virus is gone for now. The outbreak in Nigeria has been defeated," the WHO's representative in Nigeria, Rui Gama Vaz, said.

"This is a spectacular success story that shows to the world that Ebola can be contained."

In Luxembourg, the EU foreign ministers agreed the European Commission should "guarantee appropriate care for international health responders".

They said that should include the option of medical evacuation to ensure staff working in the worst-hit countries receive the best care themselves.

That has been a key stumbling block in trying to boost the number of foreign medical workers prepared to work in Guinea, Liberia and Sierra Leone.

The ministers also said there was a need to set up a pool of volunteer health experts from EU states "for quick and targeted deployment in health crises".

Nigeria supporters have their temperature taken with infrared thermometers on
 September 6, 2014 prior to entering the a stadium in Calabar, Nigeria to watch the
 2015 African Cup of Nations qualifier between Nigeria and Congo (AFP Photo/
Florian Plaucheur)

They also called on the international community to meet the $1.0 billion (782 million euros) sought by the UN, saying EU countries had put up around 500 million euros so far.

The success of Senegal and Nigeria in containing the virus is being studied by public health specialists looking to contain the spread of the disease around the world.

Some 10,000 people have been infected with the haemorrhagic fever for which there is no vaccine or cure.

A Norwegian woman who contracted the Ebola virus while working for Doctors Without Borders in Sierra Leone has been cured after treatment in an isolation unit in Oslo, the organisation said Monday.

"We are very happy to learn that our colleague has been cured," said Jonas Haagensen, a spokesman for the Norwegian branch of the organisation, also known by its French name Medecins sans Frontieres.

In Havana, Cuban President Raul Castro urged fellow Latin American leftist leaders to work together to fight Ebola, saying the disease "threatens us all" as he opened a summit on Monday.

Cuba has sought to place itself at the forefront of the international response to the Ebola epidemic, sending 165 doctors and nurses to west Africa to combat the disease, with another 300 on the way.

Related Article:


Dutch dredging firms win new Suez Canal mega contract

DutchNews.nl, Monday 20 October 2014

(NOS/EPA)
Dutch dredging companies Boskalis and Van Oord have acquired a hotly contested contract to build a second Suez canal in Egypt. The contract is worth around $1.5bn, the Financieele Dagblad reported at the weekend.

‘It’s one of the biggest dredging jobs of the decade’, the paper quotes Boskalis ceo Peter Berdowski as saying.

The contract was signed at the weekend by the Egyptian prime-minister and the head of the  Suez Canal Authorities (SCA). Boskalis and Van Oord have formed a consortium with Belgian company Jan de Nul and NMDC from Abu Dhabi.

Congestion

The plan to build a second Suez Canal parallel to the existing canal was announced by president Al-Sisi in August. It is meant to put an end to the one way traffic in some parts of the canal and avoid congestion on one of the most important shipping routes in the world.

The project will also bring employment to the area, revive the economy and give a boost to national pride, the FD writes.

The canal generates some $5bn in toll revenue a year which makes it the Egypt’s biggest earner. A parallel shipping lane will almost double the number of ships that pass through the canal and take it from 49 to 97 ships a day. The Egyptian government expects toll revenue to rise to over $13bn annually.

Challenge

The consortium is going to have to remove 180 million cubic meters of sand in order to dig the 24 meter deep, 50km long canal. Time is short: the consortium only has ten months to finish the job and dredging boats from all over the world are converging on Egypt. ‘It’s going to be an enormous challenge,’ Berdowski is quoted as saying.

The Dutch consortium pipped the China Harbor Engineering & Construction (Chec) to the post, ‘probably because we were the only ones who could come up with the material in such a short amount of time,’ Berdowski told the FD.

Related Article:


Friday, October 17, 2014

Boko Haram agrees to ceasefire, release of school girls

The Islamist militant group Boko Haram has agreed to a ceasefire and the release of more than 200 kidnapped school girls, according to Nigerian officials. The girls were abducted six months ago from a school in Chibok.

Deutsche Welle, 17 Oct 2014


Nigerian government officials claimed on Friday to have struck a two-part deal with Boko Haram, including a ceasefire and the release of 219 school girls, whose abduction last April sparked international outrage.

"Boko Haram issued the ceasefire as a result of the discussions we have been having with them," said Hassan Tukur, who represented the Nigerian government at talks with the militant organization in neighboring Chad. "They have agreed to release the Chibok girls," he continued

The girls have been missing for the past six months, despite international efforts mobilized by the Twitter hashtag campaign #BringBackOurGirls to rescue them from captivity. France, Great Britain and the United States have helped with the search for the girls, while China, Israel and other nations have also provided various forms of assistance.

Nearly 300 girls were kidnapped from a boarding school in the northeastern town of Chibok on April 14, but dozens managed to subsequently escape. Nigerian President Goodluck Jonathan has been criticized by the girls' families for responding slowly to their abduction.

Brutal war in Nigeria's north

Boko Haram, whose name roughly translates to "Western education is sacrilege," seeks to impose a strict interpretation of Shariah law in northern Nigeria. During its early years, the Sunni militant group engaged in isolated skirmishes with Nigerian security forces. But after a bloody government crackdown in 2009, Boko Haram launched a broad insurgency. Last summer, Boko Haram leader Abubakar Shekau declared a calipate in the areas under his forces control.

Boko Haram's insurgency has been characterized by a brutal campaign of bombings and shootings targeting Christian churches, Muslim mosques, schools, markets, bars, villages, police stations and even a UN building. An estimated 5,000 Nigerians have been killed and a further 300,000 displaced by the violence.

In 2013, the Nigerian government declared a state of emergency in the northeastern states of Borno, Yobe, and Adamawa. Amnesty International has accused the Nigerian military of war crimes, including extrajudicial killings, in its fight against Boko Haram. The United Nations and Human Rights Watch have also alleged that Nigeria's security forces have committed human rights abuses.

Nigeria's population of 177 million people is 50 percent Muslim and 40 percent Christian. Muslims are concentrated in the north and Christians in the south. The remaining 10 percnet of the population practices indigenous beliefs.

slk/shs (AP, AFP, Reuters)

Sunday, October 12, 2014

Reconstruction funds pledged for Gaza

Pledges for the reconstruction of Gaza have been made at an international meeting in Cairo. There were also renewed calls for peace talks between Israel and the Palestinians.

Deutsche Welle, 12 Oct 2014


Thirty international envoys gathered in Cairo on Sunday to discuss reconstruction of the Gaza strip. Some 18,000 homes in Gaza together with major parts of the territory's infrastructure were destroyed in the seven-week conflict with Israel this summer. The Palestinians have put the full cost of reconstruction at about $4 billion (3.16 billion euros) over three years.

"The state of Qatar announces its participation with an amount of $1 billion for the reconstruction of Gaza," Qatari Foreign Minister Khaled al-Attiya said at the meeting.

US Secretary of State John Kerry announced $212 million in US aid to Palestinians in the Gaza Strip. "The people of Gaza do need our help, desperately, not tomorrow, not next week, they need it now," Kerry told the meeting.

European Union member states will contribute a total of 450 million euros ($568 million) to Gaza, the bloc's foreign policy chief Catherine Ashton said. Foreign Minister Frank-Walter Steinmeier announced Germany is to contribute 50 million euros to reconstruction efforts in Gaza: "We can't allow the people in Gaza to sink into despair," he said in a statement.

Britain is to provide $32 million for reconstruction according to the country's ambassador in Cairo.

Palestinians put the cost of reconstruction
at about $4 billion
Israel was not invited to the conference but Foreign Minister Avigdor Lieberman said any effort would need his government's consent: "Gaza cannot be rebuilt without the cooperation and participation of Israel," Lieberman told the Ynet news service. He added that Israel would be "receptive" to plans for "the reconstruction of civilian infrastructure in Gaza."

Renewed peace calls

At the conference on Sunday there were also renewed calls for a peace process between the Palestinians and Israel.

"Out of this conference must come not just money but a renewed commitment from everybody to work for peace that meets the aspirations of all, for Israelis, for Palestinians for all people of this region," Kerry said. "And I promise you the full commitment of president Obama, myself and the United States to try to do that."

Egypt renewed its call for a wider Middle East peace deal based on a 2002 initiative proposed by Saudi Arabia, offering full recognition of the Jewish state, if it gave up all land seized in the 1967 Middle East war and agreed to a "just solution" for Palestinian refugees.

Palestinian leader Mahmoud Abbas also said the 2002 Arab plan could be the framework for a new comprehensive approach to the Palestinian-Israeli conflict.

Israel has previously rejected this initiative.

jm/rc (Reuters, AFP)

US Secretary of State John Kerry (L) greets Palestinian Authority President
 Mahmud Abbas (C) at Andalus Villa in Cairo on October 12, 2014, on the
sidelines of the Gaza Donor Conference (AFP Photo/Carolyn Kaster)

Thursday, October 9, 2014

Palestinian unity cabinet holds first meeting in the Gaza Strip

The Palestinian unity government has held its first-ever meeting in the Gaza Strip. This came just days ahead of a donors' conference to raise funds for the territory, which was battered by a recent Israeli offensive.

Deutsche Welle, 9 Oct 2014


Prime Minister Rami Hamdallah and 11 ministers crossed into the coastal territory through the Erez crossing on Thursday, where they were met by Palestinian President Mahmoud Abbas of the Fatah party, as well as senior officials from the Islamist militant group Hamas.

They then toured the town of Beit Hanoun and the Shijaiyah district of Gaza City, both of which were badly damaged in Israel's summer offensive.

"What we have seen today is dreadful and painful, and it has become clear to us that the rebuilding (of Gaza) is at the top of our list of priorities," Prime Minister Hamdallah said after the visit.

The ministers from Gaza subsequently traveled to Abbas' former residence in Gaza City, where they were joined by five Gaza-based ministers. These had been unable to attend when the government of technocrats was sworn in during a ceremony held in the West Bank city of Ramallah in June, as Israel had prevented them from traveling there. The five ministers had been forced to take part in previous cabinet meetings, also held in Ramallah, via video conference.

"We are facing a humanitarian and moral duty to our people in Gaza," the prime minister said even before surveying the damage in the narrow coastal strip.

Seven years of division

"We have put the years of division behind us, and the most important priority of the government is to guarantee a return to normal life for Gazans and unity with the West Bank," he added.

The agreement to form a unity government, reached back in April, is aimed at ending the bitter seven-year split between Fatah and Hamas, which began when Hamas forcibly seized control of the territory in 2007.

Between then and the formation of the unity administration, Fatah had governed the West Bank, while Hamas, which is regarded by Israel as a terrorist organization, ruled Gaza, leading Israel to impose a blockade on the territory.

Thursday's meeting came three days ahead of an international donors' conference, which Abbas has said he hopes will generate $4 billion (3.14 billion euros) in aid to reconstruct the Gaza Strip. Tens of thousand of Gazans were left homeless after their homes were destroyed in this past summer's 50-day Israeli air and ground offensive aimed at stopping militant rocket fire on the Jewish state.

More than 2,100 Gazans, mostly civilians, were killed in the conflict, while 73 people, mainly soldiers, were killed on the Israeli side.

pfd/tj (AP, AFP)
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